Designers Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent are adding an extra personal touch to their upcoming HGTV series The Nate & Jeremiah Home Project. The couple and interior design gurus are helping clients not just renovate houses, but take their family history into account as they decide if sentimental possessions are worth keeping, repurposing, or donating. A process that is easier said than done when you consider the emotional connections involved. That, and the fact these heirlooms often span generations.
Over the course of six episodes, the dads of two also take the viewers inside their own spaces as they work. Before the big reveals, Nate and Jeremiah took TV Insider through their thought process and how the show goes beyond just the materialistic.
How would you say your working relationship has evolved over the years?
Nate Berkus: I think it has evolved like any relationship. When we first started doing shows together, I was really nervous to let go of certain things. That has definitely changed. The show is really a reflection of where we are in our marriage and as dads. I think what it represents more than anything, it’s essentially a show about love. Love for each other, love the way we work together and the people we meet along the way.
Jeremiah Brent: Our kids are six and three, and we’re back in the city. I don’t think there is a particular change creatively, because we have always trusted each other. This show is an exploration of people’s things and what they mean and how you might be able to help move people at a point in their lives they might be stuck in.
What kind of criteria do you go through when deciding what items you would keep?
Brent: It is different for Nate and I. I hold on to a lot less than Nate. I’m under the school of thought that if it’s not absolutely beautiful or functional, it’s probably not really needed. Nate was one of the first people to have come into my life to look at the idea of items having a place in your story. Helping remind you of places you’ve been and sometimes where you want to go. It’s the balance between the two of us that makes the show fun.
Berkus: Between the two of us, I’m definitely more connected to objects and meanings of things and how they represented our stories. The show is about embracing that and getting to know people through their things. What I think both of us want viewers to take away is how to embrace those things. Make them a bigger priority in the overall design, without wrecking the design of the space where it feels super out of place. We use our skills as designers to blend the things that have meaning and getting to know people as they try to understand that the things they own and are living with are important.
When a particular family finds out a little more about a particular item’s history, it seems their bond is even stronger after the project is completed.
Brent: It means a lot you felt that connection because that is the most important thing. One of the things we sought out was not to show the transactional side of design. We want to show the emotional side. When a space is done correctly, it should reflect your story and your family, past, present, or future. It’s really home. We got really lucky. We’ve met some amazing people over past shows. When you’re asking people to be vulnerable — we take that responsibility very seriously. We love what we do and are lucky to do it for people we’ve actually grown to love as well.
Do you ever run into an occasion where they decided to part with something, but had second thoughts?
Berkus: I think with every episode there are different challenges because certain people feel a deep connection to certain things and others don’t. Then sometimes they are not in agreement: husband and wife, two wives, a couple who bought their first home in the suburbs after leaving the city. Every story is different. Our job is to let the audience in on who these people are and explaining to them why particular things matter to them. We bring the homeowners back into the space before it’s furnished where they have one more opportunity to fully decide what to keep. Often when they see a space completely freshened up or redone their feelings are not always the same. It’s a really interesting experiment.
Brent: There is not really an algorithm of what is not going to stay and what is not.
How fun was it to research the history of these beloved antiques and keepsakes?
Berkus: That’s one of my favorite parts of design. I became a designer after working for an auction house. The history and identification of objects is something I always loved. I think we connect more to things when we hear more about them — where they came from and what was going on in the world at the time. It’s really interesting.
Kids, as they grow up, begin to understand what their parents do for a living. How is it to have these moments captured on camera for your family?
Brent: It’s so funny because we were talking about this the other day. We randomly came across some footage where our daughter was a one-year-old and I got really emotional thinking about it. It’s this beautiful time capsule of our family and all these people we’ve met along the way who have really helped craft the way we operate. This show is a love letter to people. The idea of showcasing a family that might not look like yours, but loves the same way. We go in each week and find that connecting tissue, and that is what makes this show so special to us.
The Nate & Jeremiah Home Project, Series Premiere, Tuesday, October 5, 9/8c, HGTV and streaming new episodes same day on Discovery+